Ensuring Quality Rectal Cancer Surgery at NAPRC-Accredited Institutions


Surgical oncologists from Cleveland Clinic discuss the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer and its aim to improve patient outcomes.

Through elaborate multidisciplinary collaboration, institutions with National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC) standards can deliver a “high level of care” in the surgical treatment of patients with rectal cancer, according to Steven Wexner, MD, PhD, and Arielle Kanters, MD.

In a conversation with CancerNetwork®, Wexner and Kanters detailed the history and advancement of the NAPRC as an interdisciplinary initiative to improve the outcomes of those undergoing surgery for rectal cancer.

Wexner is the chair in the Department of Colorectal Surgery and director of the Ellen Leifer Shulman & Steven Shulman Digestive Disease Center at Cleveland Clinic, Florida, the founding chair of the NAPRC for the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and part of the executive committee of the Commission on Cancer. Kanters is a colorectal surgeon, associate fellowship program director, and surgeon leader of the NAPRC program at Cleveland Clinic Main Campus.

Wexner spoke about the inspiration for developing the NAPRC as a mission to elevate the level of surgical outcomes in patients with rectal cancer across the United States to those he observed in European countries such as the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. He enlisted leaders from organizations including the Society of Surgical Oncology and the College of American Pathologists to outline and apply appropriate standards for surgical care in rectal cancer.

Additionally, Kanters highlighted how enforcing precise guidelines and compliance measures through the NAPRC program facilitates multidisciplinary efforts with colleagues who specialize in radiology and pathology. She stated that these principles help individuals develop their skills across each department, thereby maintaining a high level of treatment for patients with rectal cancer.

Findings from a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons indicated that mortality and complication rates appeared to be lower for patients who received surgery for rectal cancer at NAPRC-accredited institutions compared with those who were treated at non-accredited practices.

Wexner and Kanters also discussed how potential advancements related to the use of neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy may further improve patient outcomes in the field. Additionally, they spoke about updated research on immunotherapy and other modalities that they anticipate at the 2024 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.


Harbaugh CM, Kunnath NJ, Suwanabol PA, Dimick JB, Hendren SK, Ibrahim AM. Association of National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer Accreditation with outcomes after rectal cancer surgery. J Amer College Surg. Published March 28, 2024. doi:10.1097/XCS.0000000000001064

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